After years of in person classroom training, the COVID-19 pandemic motivated Oklahoma School for the Deaf to move their American Sign Language classes completely online.
The new platform exploded in popularity, attracting 350,000 students including international students from 30 countries from 2021 through spring 2023.
Spring 2023 registration began February 6. Classes are offered in the spring and fall.
“The online ASL I and ASL II classes are for people who want to learn basic signs at their own pace and become confident when communicating with a Deaf person in the public,” OSD Superintendent Dr. Heather Laine stated. “We have met people who expressed gratitude for having the online classes and saw their confidence with their signing skills.”
The ASL I and ASL II classes are pre-recorded and taught by OSD’s ASL Specialist Jolene Reed, who is deaf.
“We inspire people learning American Sign Language to have accessible communication, understand Deaf culture, and bridge both deaf and hearing worlds,” Reed said.
No English is spoken in class, but text on the left side of the screen helps English speakers follow instructions and intuitively begin using ASL.
Students complete 8 lessons per course with quizzes after each lesson. The courses are self-paced, which allows students to take class at convenient times and review the lessons as many times as needed to learn the content.
“Our ASL I is for beginners who know basic signs or nothing at all,” OSD Administrative Coordinator Sarah Jameson said. “It teaches fingerspelling, vocabulary, body language, sentence structure, grammar, and more.
“ASL II builds upon the foundation taught in ASL I and adds in more grammar and vocabulary amongst other important aspects of the language,” she added.
“OSD’s ASL online training is free in part due to the generosity of the OSD Foundation,” Laine said. “We ask that students consider donating to the OSD Foundation at www.osdfoundation.net to help share expenses for our free training.
No accurate count of the number of ASL users is available; however, a widely quoted estimate by StoryLearning indicates between 250,000 and 500,000 people USE ASL as their native language in the United States and Canada. It is the third most used language in the U.S., after English and Spanish, according to the same source.
For more information about Oklahoma School for the Deaf’s online ASL classes, visit https://courses.osd.k12.ok.us/. A help tab is available for participants to assist with questions. but they can contact us through the course website.